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The following is the “Kontra-SONA” privilege speech delivered by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares in Congress yesterday, August 4, 2014.

 

Mr. Speaker.

I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege on behalf of my fellow representatives from the Makabayan bloc. We see it necessary to present an alternative view  from that of Pres. Benigno Aquino as to the real state of our nation and our people today.

The SONA should first discuss the real state of the nation and its people, and, more importantly, should chart the direction of the country and provide concrete solutions to the problems faced by the people. 

For the people, the SONA should answer three basic questions: we are unemployed, the employed suffer from very low wages, and the price of commodities are beyond our reach, and what is the concrete solution that the President has to offer. Pres. Aquino failed to concretely discuss these very important questions from the people.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to discuss the pressing issues of our people, which I think are what we and our President should focus on and attended to, first and foremost.

First, on the supposed economic growth and continuing high rate of unemployment and poverty.

The much-hailed Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 7.2% in 2013 reported as one of the fastest in Asia and emerging markets worldwide.

But this rapid growth is shallow, artificial and unsustainable, according to economic analysts. Worse, the growth is exclusionary.

The real estate and construction boom are the biggest contributors to growth, yet these sectors account for a small percentage of employment, are weakly integrated to the rest of the economy, and have a limited multiplier effect as these are heavily concentrated in the NCR, Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions.

The real estate and construction boom and the GDP growth is fueled and driven by growing debt, speculative foreign capital and overseas remittances.  

The Bureau of Treasury reported that the national government’ s outstanding debt increased  by 4.5 percent to P5.681 trillion (about $127.67 billion) as of the end of 2013.. Paano naman natin sasabihing umuunlad tayo kung nababaon tayo sa utang?

Samantala. pumasok sa bansa sa taong 2013 ang aabot sa $28 Billion foreign portfolio investment o tinatawag na speculative capital sa stock, bond at real estate market. Ngunit may lumabas namang $24B portfolio investment. Ang neto – $4.2B foreign portfolio investment. Ang problema anumang oras maaaring sabay-sabay na lumabas ng bansa ang mga ito at pabagsakin pang lalo ang ating ekonomya.

Tumaas ang ng 7.6% at umabot sa halagang $25.1B o higit P 1 Trilyong piso ang overseas remittance. Ito ang pinakamalaking dahilan ng real estate at construction boom.  Ngunit ano ang ibig sabihin nito? Ibig sabihin nito, dumami ang mga Pilipinong lumalabas ng bansa dahil sa kakapusan sa hanapbuhay bunga ng mahinang lokal na ekonomya.

Mababaw at mabuway ang GDP growth dahil hindi ito nakabatay sa pagtatayo ng mga industriya at pabrika o industriyalisasyon nakapagbibigay ng matatag at maramihang trabaho.

Mr. Speaker, Apat na taon nang bukambibig ni Aquino ang inclusive growth. Apat na taon nang nagsisinungaling si Aquino. Walang nagaganap na inclusive growth. Dayuhan at iilang bilyunaryo lamang ang nakinabang sa GDP growth. Dumadami ang mahihirap at walang trabaho. The growth is exclusionary not inclusive.

The exclusionary economic growth is reflected in the growing corporate profits and personal wealth of a few in the midst of massive poverty and unemployment. The total net income of the country’s foreign and Filipino Top 1000 corporations almost doubled from Php599 billion in 2006 to Php1.08 trillion in 2012. Apat na ulit ang inilaki ng naipong net worth ng Top 40 richest Filipino. Mula US$16.4 billion noong 2009 naging US$64.2 billion, P2.7 Trilyon sa katapusan ng 2013.

Samantala, dumadami ang bilang ng walang trabaho at mahihirap. Ayon sa official statistics, 7.3% lang ang walang trabaho. Ang mababang datos na ito ay bunga ng matagal nang dinuktor na upisyal na dipinisyon ng employment – any person working one hour in a week is considered employed. Anong klaseng dipinisyon ito? Isang oras sa isang linggo ka lang magtrabaho hindi ka na unemployed?

Ayon sa Ibon, aabot ng 10.6% ang unemployed at nasa 20% ang underemployed sa taong 2013. Batay sa SWS survey, nasa 27.5% ang walang hanapbuhay sa ikaapat na kwarto taon 2013.

The Philippine Statistics Authority have reported this April a 3% dip in family poverty incidence, from 22.3 percent in the first half of 2012 to 19.1 percent in the same period in 2013. But then again this is based on a very low poverty threshold of P8,022/month for a family for food and non-food requirement or roughly P52/person/day.

How can P8,022 a month for a family of six cover the rising cost of food, clothing, shelter, and education? Hindi maipapaliwanag ng poverty statistics ng gubyerno kung paano magkakasya ang P53/tao/araw sa harap ng tumataas na presyo ng pagkain, kuryente, tubig, pamasahe,  pagpaaral ng mga anak.

IBON Databank reported that a family of six needs P1,051 per day or more than P30,000/month for the cost of food, clothing, shelter and education. The minimum wage of P466/day in the National Capital Region or around P10,252/month is only 1/3 of this minimum cost of living. It is estimated that 66% of Filipinos earn less than P 125.00 per day. 

Mr. Speaker, hindi na po pwedeng sisihin ni President Aquino si dating Presidente Arroyo sa malaganap na kahirapan at kakapusan ng hanapbuhay sa bansa.

Pananagutan na ni Aquino ang pagtutuloy at pagpapatindi pa nga ng mga programa at patakarang nagbunga ng pagbagsak ng lokal na ekonomya at napaglala sa laganap na kahirapan. Dapat managot si Aquino sa patuloy na pagsunod sa dikta ng US at IMF/WB na liberalisasyon, pribatisasyon at deregulasyon ng ekonomya.

Import and investment liberalization have wrought havoc to our local agriculture and industry. Aquino allowed our economy to be flooded with imported products to the detriment of our farmers, entrepreneurs and workers. Foreign investors are exploiting our cheap labor and mineral and other natural resources.

Privatizing government functions, in the energy sector, water, transportation and other basic government functions such as health and education is cruelly anti-poor and anti-people. We became defenseless against the onslaught of profit driven corporations taking over public service and utilities. Worse, while government launched its PPP projects ostensibly because it has no funds, Pres. Aquino’s budget every year is littered with unspent funds deemed as savings.  

Deregulation with privatization is a dangerous mixture that now resulted in spiraling prices of oil power, water and other prime commodities. The few foreign and Filipino monopolies are making a killing our of our suffering.  Our painful lessons with the likes of Epira, MWSS, LRT and MRT are evidence of the anti-people character of privatization and deregulation. And yet government persists in implementing economic policies that did not work before, is not working now, and will never work in the future.

Mr. Speaker, The people’s clamor for genuine land reform and nationalist industrialization have fallen on deaf ears. Aquino refused to listen to his bosses.

Genuine land reform is not only a social justice tool but also development tool which shall unleash the potential of the farmers to become an active economic factor for development. Twenty five years after the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, according to IBON Databank, land acquisition and distribution balance was still big at 890,671 hectares, a huge part of which are private agricultural lands.  Majority of farmers remain poor.

Mr. Speaker, the bogus CARP has already expired, CARP is dead! It is now in our hands, to seriously consider passing a genuine agrarian reform law rather than extend an inherently flawed and ineffective CARP.

And yes, we need a national industrialization program that will do away with unbridled import liberalization, deregulation and privatization policies. This means government spending hundreds of billions and mobilizing Filipino capital for building industries and factories and for modernizing agriculture.

All developed countries like the US, UK, Japan and now, China embarked on the program of  land reform and industrialization. Foreign investments can never deliver the country from poverty.  Foreign investors have condemned countries like the Philippines and those in Latin America and Asia to eternal poverty.

Another major problem that must be solved is the endemic system of graft and corruption. These past years we witness how the Aquino regime brought further hardships to the people through its support for the pork barrel system such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), The minimum wage in the entire country is so insufficient to meet the minimum cost of living, as millions of Filipinos earn less than P125.00/day.   

Pinasinungalingan ng DAP at ang bilyon bilyung pork barrel sa 2014 budget ang matagal nang palusot na walang pera ang gobyerno para sa hinihinging serbisyo publiko.  Kung kaya pala ng gubyernong makatipon ng savings at makarealign ng P237B sa DAP, bakit hindi nito kayang pondohan ang modernisasyon ng Philippine Orthopedic Center na nagkakahalaga lamang ng P5.7B, o kaya bayaran ang loteng kinatitirikan ng Philippine Children’s Medical Center na P1.2B para hindi na isapribado ang mga ito?

The government’s claim of daang matuwid and its anti corruption drive is belied by its persistent support for the pork barrel system while it withdraws support to a genuine freedom of information law.

Mr. Speaker, similarly scandalous is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Despite the clear and categorical Constitutional prohibition on foreign military bases, troops, or facilities in the country beyond the year1991, President Aquino entered into EDCA that is essentially a basing agreement where U.S. forces, personnel and contractors are granted the  right  to  freely access  and  use  “Agreed  Locations” anywhere in the Philippines, granted blanket authority to conduct activities,  allowed the use of the nation’s facilities and even radio spectrum rent free; and exempted from many taxes. While we should assert our rights to our territories from the baseless and arrogant claims of China, we cannot take out one bully in China and replace it with another bully in the US.

EDCA is manifestly contrary and inimical to the national interest. Through the EDCA, the Aquino regime effectively surrendered the country’s sovereignty to the hegemony of the US military.

The culture of impunity remains as human rights violations continue unabated under the Aquino regime. Wala pa ngang nareresolba sa napakaraming human rights violations noon, nadagdagan pa. From July 2010 to June 2014 Karapatan documented 204 extrajudicial killings and 207 frustrated extra judicial killings, 395 physical assault and injury, 664 illegal arrests and detention, 39,800 forced evacuations, and 65,712 threats/intimidation.harrasments. Even Human Rights Watch expressed dismay on the Aquino administration prosecution of human rights violators when it said that: “xxx the government has failed to address impunity for the most serious abuses. On prosecuting rights abusers, it needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

Mr. Speaker, ganito ba ang “matwid” na daan? Ganito ba ang tamang gawi ng isang presidenteng paulit-ulit na nagsasabing mamamayan ang “boss” niya?  

Mr. Speaker, as representatives of our districts and partylists, we are not here to serve our political parties, or any government official for that matter.

The next months will be a test for all of us in the House of Representatives on how steadfast we will be in upholding our sworn duty to represent and be the voice of the people amidst the violation of the constitution, betrayal of public trust and continuing hardships and difficulties of the poor majority.

Huwag nating biguin ang mamamayang Pilipino na naghahangad ng tunay na pagbabago.

Maraming salamat po.#

2 thoughts on “A ‘Kontra-SONA’

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